After attending to about 25 people, I am finally looking forward to a short break to enjoy my coffee in silence, a rare incident! Just as I am about to bite into my much needed chicken pie, I hear a knock on the door, and a well-dressed middle aged woman lets herself in before I can respond! Bad manners but, what to do? She is accompanied by a young lady who I assume is her daughter. She seems to be cowering behind her mother, which I thought was odd for a lady her age; I estimated her age to be between 19 to 22 thereabout.
After a brief introduction the older female explains that she was sent to me by some big shot and needed a medical report filled for her daughter who had been defiled. Immediately I think to myself, “Defiled?? But she looks well over 18? And why isn’t she accompanied by an officer?” I let her, the mother, do the talking as I listened keenly.
The mother narrated that her 17 year old daughter was defiled by a young man who lured her daughter, Catherine, into his house where he defiled her for a few days before her mother rescued her. Catherine remained silent throughout this monologue, looking down at the floor for extended periods that would be briefly broken by quick glances my way.
After being in this field long enough, one is able to ‘read’ people and situations rather quickly and accurately, and one can sniff trouble from a mile away. From the minute this mother started her story , and by adding that ‘mkubwa Fulani’ sent me, I sensed trouble all over this case.
After listening to the mother’s version of the events that had transpired, I decided to speak with Catherine alone. I politely asked her mother to leave us alone so that I could examine the victim, and hesitantly, she left. Before I continued, and realizing that I had to maximize on the few minutes I had, I asked her to give me the history again and to be completely honest with me. I informed her that this ‘suspect’, (whom she claimed she knew), faced very serious consequences should he be found guilty. I reminded her that she was old enough to know right from wrong, that she was old enough to know what was going on, and that she had a responsibility to do the right thing. I told her that she is living her own life and not her mother’s or anyone else’s life but her own, and that she was in this case as the complainant, not a spectator.
I could see Catherine was going through a tug of war in her mind, deciding what to do or say. She needed a reality check and to understand that she was a big girl now, responsible for her actions. After I was done talking, the following conversation ensued:
Me: How old are you?
Catherine: 17, no 18.
Me: Ok, let’s try that again, and please give me your true age this time.
Catherine: 19 years old.
Me: Are you sure? Don’t worry; you will not be in trouble by being honest.
Catherine: Yes, I am 19 years old.
Me: Where is your birth certificate? Your mother said it was lost and she is getting another one.
Catherine: That’s a lie. It’s not lost. She is having another one made backstreets so that my age will appear as 17 years and not 19. I even have an ID!
At this point, I was trying very hard not to show my anger, a skill I have learnt over the years. She continued:
Catherine: The suspect is my boyfriend, and he has been for some time now, over a year. This time my mother found out because I spent the night out, away from home and she traced me to his house. She was a!a us there and she was furious!
Me: How old is your boyfriend?
Catherine; 25 years old.
Me: How do you want this to play out? You know he can easily end up in prison as an innocent man. Will you be ok with that? Is fear of your mother’s wrath worth it?
Catherine: I live with my mother. If she throws me out what will I do? But also, I don’t want my boyfriend in trouble. What should I do?
I will stop the conversation here. We discussed a way forward for all the parties concerned and the case did not proceed.
I understand, or can at least imagine the pain and distress parents endure when their daughters (and sons) begin engaging in sexual activity before marriage, worse if they are minors. We all want our children, sisters and brothers to engage in such activities at the right time and in a morally upright manner with the absence of or least negative repercussions. We all want to raise law abiding children and wish the best for them and we despise anyone who will steal their innocence or lead them astray.
However, vengeance, especially of the magnitude described above where false allegations are made and false documents produced is not only illegal but completely selfish, inconsiderate and unacceptable. The ‘suspect’ in this case has a mother, father, and siblings as well as a future. He has rights and these had been grossly violated by an individual out to get back at him for her daughter’s actions. The ‘suspect’ in this case is innocent and has been subjected to days in jail and degrading examination for no fault of his own.
For readers who have been following the “save the boys” articles, perhaps we can point out some common trouble areas:
· Again, I repeat, IGNORANCE IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE! It doesn’t matter if the child consents to sexual activity. Sexual activity with a minor is illegal and sentences can be 10 years or more.
· Men (and women) should know the laws (Sexual Offences Act) regarding sexual activity
· It is your responsibility to establish the age of an individual before engaging that individual sexually. Ask for ID!
· You may not want to accept, this but girls also initiate sex and some can be very aggressive!
2. Consent vs Force
· Consent must be sought before engaging in sexual activity. Claiming that force was not used is not a defense. One doesn’t have to force another into sexual activity for ‘rape’ to be concluded.
· Consent must not be derived by tricking, coercing, intoxicating or threatening another into engaging sexually. It must come from a willing party OVER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
3. What happens if both individuals are under 18?
· Sex between persons under 18 years of age is illegal. Boys are assumed to be aware of their actions by age 12 so believe it or not; the boy in such a case will be branded and handled as a ‘suspect’ while the girl will be branded a ‘victim’. I have seen boys as young as 8 years old brought to me as suspects.
4. Whose responsibility is it to educate our children about this?
· Those who are guardians of children, parents should make it a priority to make time to teach our children about sex, the law, and to instill moral values in children from an early age. Why wait for them to be adults? Or worse, in trouble?
I don’t have all the answers and can only offer advice based on my experiences in the field and this is why I started the blog in the first place. We must as a community breaks the silence on these crucial issues. I know this will bring mixed emotions but at the end of the day, my goal is to inform the public on matters that actually take place and situations any one of us or our loved ones can find themselves in.
My good people, Vunja Kimya!